Jobocalypse now: the race to lift lockdown

Pint-sized: Pubs with outdoor spaces will be allowed to open for business. © Alamy

Is it time to end the lockdown? As the government rushes to re-open businesses in time for summer, scientists warn that lifting lockdown too quickly could lead to a second wave of the virus.

Over thee million jobs.

That would be the cost of failing to open up businesses in time for summer.

“Christ!” said Boris Johnson.

The prime minister had not quite realised the economic urgency behind the need to lift lockdown.

This led to a group of ministers – now known as the “Save Summer Six” – being tasked with getting life in the UK back to normal by July.

But the British government faces a serious dilemma.

Lift lockdown too quickly and the virus risks spreading again. Return to normal life too slowly and face severe economic consequences for years.

For instance, many businesses in the hospitality sector are on the brink of collapse. “Their key time is the summer,” one senior civil servant told the Sunday Times. “If they can’t get going in July, a lot of them will just shut up shop for good.”

The government looks set to allow outdoor marriages, pubs and restaurants to serve in outdoor areas, and hairdressers to re-open. There is also pressure from businesses to reduce the social distance rule from 2m to 1m.

However, Dr Hans Kluge, director for the WHO European region told the Telegraph that Europe is in danger of suffering a deadlier second wave of the virus. He said, “This is not a time for celebration, it’s a time for preparation.”

So, is it really time to end the lockdown?

Unlock?

Yes. Though the UK has struggled with this dangerous new virus, the country has upped its testing capacity and hospitals are receiving fewer Covid-19 patients each day. Job losses and a summer of economic desperation will only lead to more misery.

No. Infection rates in the UK are still high and many medical professionals say that it is too dangerous. The government should continue to protect businesses affected by the pandemic until the R rate is down and track and trace is in place.

You Decide

  1. Would you feel safe going out to a restaurant in the UK?

Activities

  1. If the world never goes back to “normal”, what new jobs do you think will appear? Make a list of three that you would like to do.

Some People Say...

“The first wealth is health.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American poet and essayist

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The UK has the world’s second-highest Covid-19 death rate per million people. On one day last week, it recorded more deaths from the virus than every other country in Europe combined. A senior scientist who advises the government has gone on record saying that nationwide lockdown should have started earlier and that the delay has cost “many lives”.
What do we not know?
We do not know whether people will behave normally once the economy re-opens. Many will still be scared of catching the virus. This could lead to lower spending, less holiday, and less socialising – all of which would harm the economy. We do not know how bad the threat of a second wave really is.

Word Watch

Hospitality sector
Theme parks, pubs, bars, restaurants, and hotels. They make up about 5% of the UK economy and 10% of its employment.
Brink
Edge.
Civil servant
Someone who works for the government, and is responsible for putting government policy into place.
WHO
World Health Organisation. A branch of the United Nations established in 1948 to improve global healthcare.
Upped
Increased.
R rate
The “R” stands for reproduction. The rate at which infections spread throughout a population. When it is below the number one, less people are being infected than currently have the disease. When it is above one, the virus will be spreading quickly – something that no one wants.
Track and trace
A system that ensures that everyone with symptoms can be quickly tested and their contacts notified and told to isolate, so as to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.